What's new in various product categories; monthly
More Views of Quilt Market
Impressions from a newcomer and a veteran.
Contributed by readers. (November, 2003)
(Note: A more detailed report on the trends and products
at the 2003 Quilt Market is included in the 11/03/03 issue of CLN.)
A Newcomer's View.
Having never been to Quilt Market before, I didn't have
anything to compare it to, so I asked a few shopowners their
thoughts. They believe the traffic was down from previous years, but
they were very happy with the number of booths and the fabrics and
supplies offered to them.
I was a bit disappointed that I didn't find any show-stopping trend
in the fabric area. I remember when animal prints were hot a couple
years ago - at HIA they were showing up on everything. Not so at Quilt
Market. If I had to pick one thing that was more prevalent, I
would say it was bright, fun colors. There were many booths
displaying fabrics and quilts in pastel and primitive colors, but
brights seemed to appear more often.
Technology was also very evident. There were a few booths showing
cross stitch and applique with computer patterns and the sewing
machine. Also, computers came into play in quilt design programs as
well as printing photos and fabric designs on fabric sheets.
There were numerous quilts that moved away from the traditional
quilt feel. They had cats, snowmen, houses, etc., cut out of fabric
and appliqued to the quilts. At times the quilts were so full of
these images that they depicted quite detailed scenes. I'm more of a
traditionalist in this area (Log Cabin, flying geese, etc.), so I
was not impressed with these quilts. I recognize and appreciate the
Wearables were in evidence in many of the booths: sweatshirts and
shirts with appliqued designs, vests and jackets made out of
quilted, pieced fabrics, etc.
It appeared to me that shopowners were very busy placing orders.
People in the booths were busy with customers and their pens were
scratching away on the clipboards. Shopowners seemed upbeat. The
distributor booths (such as E.E. Schenck and Checker) seemed to have
the same amount of traffic as the individual booths. It didn't seem
that shopowners were favoring distributors over manufacturers or
The quilts that were part of the exhibition were fabulous. Some were
really "out there" in a modern-art kind of way (four naked
ladies on one, abstract faces on another, etc.). There were many
quilts from the 1800's on display; they were beautiful and in
One thing that caught my attention in this area: many of the new
quilts which used traditional American quilt patterns were actually
made by Japanese quilters. Many of the kimonos on display were made
The most interesting quilt on display? One made out of recycled Coke
and Pepsi cans! The quilter had cut the cans into squares measuring
about 1-1/2". Holes for stitching were then punched out along
all four sides. The squares were arranged so that they created the
The buzz at the show? What shopowners were talking about in the
aisles was the Locker Hooking offered in the M.C.G. Textiles
booth. It's rug hooking with fabric strips - quick and fun.
Well, those are my thoughts and comments on my first Quilt Market.
It did make me want to make another quilt, so it was definitely
inspiring! - Kate
(Note: Kate is the pseudonym for a mid-level manager at a
major industry company. She regularly writes "Kate's
Collage," which you can access by clicking on "Kate's
Collage" in the left-hand column.)
A Retailer's View.
We spent 3 days at Quilt Market - felt good about all that we
were able to accomplish there. We do know that a number of the
vendors/sales reps had fewer appointments while there, and that a
number of retailers chose not to attend. (Maybe that's why we got so
much accomplished.) We saw a lot of nice fabric lines; some vendors
were very busy with their new lines - others seemed to have little
business. There were a number of new pattern vendors represented,
but that is normal for this Quilt Market. Of the vendors that
we visited, Maywood, Timeless Treasures, and Moda seemed to really
have gone all out with new lines to introduce at this show." - Emma
Gebbo, Crafts & Frames
(Note: Emma is an independent retailer in Pocatello, Idaho.
She's a member and former president of the Sierra Pacific Group,
currently serves on the board of directors of ACCI, and is a member
of the ACCI/HIA Merger Task Force.)
View from a Publisher.
Fabrics were a mix of wild and bright, soft and gentle, and
reproductions. Redwork, rag quilts, and wool remain popular. Many of
the booths had quilts with some dimensional element (folded fabric).
The stores were certainly looking for books that would sell classes,
especially classes that could be completed in one session. Hence
books in the C&T booth - Ricky Tims' Convergence Quilts, Fast,
Fun & Easy Fabric Bowls, and Make It Simpler Paper
Piecing - were quite popular.
A PBS television crew shot one-on-one interviews for future shows.
The Market seemed busier than recent previous shows - perhaps
attendance was up. Each of our informational programs (Schoolhouses)
for shopowners were overflowing with attendees, some interested in
the huge names in the business from Ruth McDowell to Elly
Sienkiewicz, and others for the newest techniques ("Quick-Strip
Paper Piecing," "Liberated String Quilts,"
"Hunter Star Quilts & Beyond," etc.). - Mari Dreyer,
Needlework & Quilting.
I have been watching the discussion about stitching magazines
disappearing and the generally downward trend of the counted
thread/cross stitch industry with great interest. As many of you
know, I work in needlework, but I also have a foot in the quilting
industry. I have found it both interesting and illuminating to
compare and contrast the two industries.
One of the most telling observations I have made concerns the
business models followed by many successful quilt
designers/personalities. Currently the quilt industry is a much
larger, more dynamic, and varied industry than the counted thread
segment of the needlework industry. However, even with the many more
commercial opportunities afforded by these dynamics, few of the
"name" quilt designers are focusing on design alone.
If one looks carefully, it becomes apparent that most are involved
in what I call the "Four Ts of Quilting": Teaching,
Technique, Tools, and Theory. Many of the quilting world's success
stories are involved in at least three and sometimes even four of
This led me to question the practicality of needlework designers'
expectations and their focus primarily on designing.
I do agree that counted thread is currently in a slump and general
industry wisdom has it that there are cycles, but I also feel that
we as designers may be putting an undue pressure on the structure of
our own businesses with such a narrow focus.
I agree that it would behoove us to look for ways to expand and grow
the counted thread segment, but we also need to take a good long
look at our own business structures. My feeling is that a broader
business base can help minimize the economic vagaries of any single
area of needlework. - Tink Boord-Dill, Tink Boord-Dill
Needlework (http://tinkbd.com), and Following The Thread
Internet Radio ( http://fttradio.com)
(Note: Previous columns in Category Reports are available by
clicking on the titles in the right-hand column.)